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Love Potion
Love Potion

 

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     Spring arrived, and so did the roses at the nurseries. Thank goodness for the picture labels attached to them because otherwise I may have left the venture alone. Rows and rows of peat containers with ‘sticks in the mud.’ They certainly didn’t look like much. But the promise of what was to come was portrayed with luscious photography and descriptions of each variety. I decided on what drew my eyes. I didn’t have a clue about disease resistance, hardiness, amount of blooms produced, etc. But I knew what I liked. Yellow and pinks attracted me that year. I also loved the photos of the very full looking roses. I chose a Graham Thomas (David Austin’s beautiful butter yellow rose), a Sunsprite (lemon yellow), Queen Elizabeth (pink), Color Magic (a two toned pink) and a very pale pink which I truly don’t remember the name of. I brought them home, dug the appropriate holes, firmed them in (well pressed in to reduce air pockets), watered them and stood back smiling at my fine ‘sticks in the mud.’ I surrounded the roses with annuals and perennials, and indeed everything bloomed magnificently. With appreciation and admiration for these lovely plants came learning. That summer I noticed peculiar spots on some of the rose leaves. Some roses lost their leaves completely. Some roses bloomed repeatedly in large magnificent shows, while others bloomed sporadically. Some had lovely fragrance while others had none. I learned what I liked (certain colors, proportions and size of plants, fragrance, amount of blooms and speed of reoccurance). And I learned about the vulnerabilities of roses: certain diseases, need for great amounts of nutrients to aid in optimum capacity to bloom, sensitivity to climate and inherent genetic weaknesses in some. I decided to immerse myself in the study of roses.

     Around that time I also discovered a friend or two that had similiarly developed a passion for roses. We began sharing our interest in earnest. We discussed information about roses that we had gleaned from various sources and through trial and error. In sharing our love for roses were furthered our devotion to them. Every year we set out in spring to purchase the roses we have set our hearts on during winter. It is truly a rewarding experience. Even when certain roses disappoint, it does not discourage. It simply reaffirms our drive to find something better, something pleasing. We have discovered better soil formulas for the roses, better organic ways to deal with pests and disease and new varieties superior in both strength and matchless beauty to previous varieties. And yet our fondness of the old-fashioned varieties remains steadfast. Beauty truly lies in the eyes of the beholder.

     Whatever happened to my first set of roses? Sunsprite slipped away two years after I had bought her. She was a small specimen that never bloomed very much. I have seen Sunsprite elsewhere and marveled at the endurance and beauty of it. I shall be obtaining another one in the future. Queen Elizabeth I gave away; she became too large for my little garden. Color Magic was lovely with huge dinner plate blooms but succumbed to the winter. In spring I could not coax life back into those blackened stems. And as for the yellow Graham Thomas, I have it still. He bloomed with the same delicious beauty and scent this summer, his ninth.
(By Andrea Grant)

 

 

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